What is Recovery? – A Brief Look at our Destination

Published: 09/3/17

Recovery is the goal.  We can all agree on that!


Addiction Recovery Path


But, what is ‘Recovery?’  The word has a specific definition.  In the context of addiction and treatment, however, true meaning can be harder to pin down.

Addiction is complicated by the number of different substances or activities that can be addictive. While addiction is considered a disease, it is still also a behavioral disorder.  That behavior is different if you’re entering a casino, a bar, or a doctor’s office. And, different addictive substances, or activities, can have vastly different effects on the body and brain.

The underlying causes of addiction can also vary widely.  Causes of addiction can include environmental stress, genetic predisposition, and malnutrition, among others.

So, while addiction is a treatable condition, successful treatment is likely to look different for each individual.

Recovery will look different, as well.

It can be difficult to achieve and maintain recovery  without a clear picture of what recovery looks like.

We asked former addicts, current treatment professionals, and some random citizens, to help us define recovery.  We used their survey responses to generate a word cloud.

As with any definition of recovery, this is not a complete picture.  We can’t possibly address the recovery scenario of every person battling addiction. But, what this word cloud does is establish some common threads in a visually attractive way.

Below, please see our word cloud, and read on after for selected quotes and discussion.


What is Recovery?


Recovery Word Cloud - What is Recovery?

our Recovery word cloud

Select excerpts from our survey


…a meaningful life in sobriety…

During treatment, a person battling addiction must work hard to find something to live for, something to give life meaning. Only then can the process begin.


…the gift of giving back…

Recovery is a gift. Part of that gift allows the former addict to become a friend and family member, and a contributing member of society again. A person in recovery must cherish that gift always, and never take it for granted.


…working on improving mind, body, and spirit…

Physical self-care includes exercise, sleep, and nutrition. Spiritual self-care involves a love of self, appreciation for downtime, and balance.


…being honest, open minded and willing at all times…

As said best in the Big Book – “only by discussing ourselves, holding back nothing, only by being willing to take advice and accept direction could we set foot on the road to straight thinking, solid honesty and genuine humility”


…improve quality of life for self and subsequently the lives of others surrounding you…

Addiction can easily lead to selfishness, as the focus of life becomes a substance: the source of addiction. Costs of addiction can include relationships, and the love of friends and family.


…a new way of life…

Addiction treatment is all about replacing unhealthy habits with healthy habits. Part of this treatment process is teaching the client to live with and appreciate these new habits. Recognizing the importance of this new way of life is critical to maintaining recovery.



A person battling addiction is trapped by his or her chosen substance or activity. Every part of a person’s life is planned around addiction. With the burden lifted, a person is free to make new choices, without burden.